All service in the United States military, regardless of branch or proximity to peril, is equally honorable, as is all service on behalf of the country. That said, who can argue that not all service is equal.
From 1942 to mid-1945, my father was in the Army Signal Corps. He served in Egypt and then in India. According to my dad, the closest he came to enemy contact was when an Axis recon plane happened to fly within 200 miles of Cairo. Regardless that his service was as honorable as was anyone’s, it wasn’t the same as staggering through the Battaan Death March, not the same as being in the first waves at Normandy, or Iwo Jima or the Battle of the Bulge.
Likewise, manning the DEW (Distant Early Warning) line along the Arctic Circle was not the same as being overrun along the Yalu, or fighting it out at the Chosin Reservoir.
Serving aboard the Big E, the USS Enterprise, in the Tonkin Gulf or in the China Sea, does not equate to serving with Col. Moore in the 2d Air Cav or being a grunt, facing Charlie for eight or nine months out of 12 in South Vietnam.
Similarly, manning a computer at Mac Dill AFB in Tampa does not quite reach the same level of “hazard” as did marching in the sands of Iraq in Desert Storm.
All service, military or civilian, is honorable. Just, not all are equivalent for the level of sacrifice demanded. As the saying goes, all gave some, some gave all.
Also true, however is that not all those serving in a position acquit their duties honorably. And for those who insist a given international circumstance requires that a select some face the risk of giving their all, the bar of potential hypocrisy and two-faced disingenuousness is set extraordinarily low. It matters not a whit that one may never have cheated on one’s spouse or on one’s taxes, or that one sings choruses of hymns while carrying a holy book. With every bit of that in tow, suggesting that someone else engage a peril while studiously avoiding the risk of it may be the very nadir of moral repugnancy.
More than enough was said about our current president even before he was president. More than enough that is regrettable has been said by him. “Bring ‘em on” and “kickin’ their ass” are phrases appropriate, if ever, only from those who have been in, or are in, or will be in the thick of it, not from one who, like a rabbit being chased by hounds through briars, couldn’t run fast enough to avoid the first whiff of physical peril via military duty.
Somehow, anyhow . . . none of it is or was at all the same thing. But that was then, this is now.
Rudy Giuliani lacked either the intestinal fortitude or the sense of moral obligation to serve others more and more often than he served himself. Regardless, like the cowardly kid on the sidelines of a schoolyard tussle, he felt oh so brave when, from a podium 10,000 miles removed from the peril, he recently announced he’d “double the size of Guantanimo Bay;” either realizing such outbursts invigorate and assist the insurgent and al Qaida recruiting efforts, and not caring about the deadly consequences his words would have on US personnel in harm’s way, or too stupid to recognize how inflammatory his careless words were. In either event, for more than 6½ years our country has been the sad guarantor of a thoughtless, spineless chief executive with a shock & awe mouth. We do not need another.
Only two additional notes on the matter of his outburst are essential. John Hoo, David Addington, and Alberto Gonzales, not a one of whom had the cajones to themselves entertain military service, were the torture authors who propounded how “quaint” and “irrelevant” the Geneva Convention regards were relative to abusive treatment of captured personnel. Interesting to observe how exactly it was that none of them could conceive in their own minds how US soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen depend on those “quaint” conventions for their own safety, when nothing else might save them from a most heinous fate, should they be taken hostage or prisoner. Or, second, that none, including Mr. Giuliani it is manifestly clear, ever paused to ponder the extraordinary, perhaps irreparable, damage to our image overseas as well as right here at home that has been the direct result of how we in fact treated those we detained at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib. If Ronald Reagan offered us anything of enduring value it was his allegory of the US as the “shining city on a hill.” What our country is now widely known for, however is not the 40th president’s notion but for shameful atrocities that were as excreta flung on a priceless work of art.
We don’t do that! We are either better than that, or we aren’t better than anyone. And I want to believe we are. I have to believe we are. Other than the ex-mayor of New York, that’s a noxious trudging fit only for the filthiest of rats down a most malodorous sewer, and I don’t think many Americans really want to descend into that miasmatic hole.
Mayor of NYC, candidate for US Pres . . . grandstanding on how he had faced the same atmospheric hazards (perhaps even more!) as the rescue, recovery and debris removal crews who toiled day and night, week after week, in Ground Zero’s ghastly pit . . . well, it’s just not the same as standing front and center, tall on the line. I’m sorry Mr. Mayor, just because you want to think it is doesn’t make it so. It’s just not.
As viscerally and emotionally degrading as the preceding certainly are, perhaps little is quite as egregiously insulting to the American service men and women, past, present and future, as the persona and heedless extemporaneity of Mitt Romney.
It is said, and I believe that “In vino (and hasty words spoken) vertitas”
But to set this up: Mitt Romney, the son of a mega-millionaire ex-CEO of an American auto manufacturer, has five sons, each of whom appears as an icon of American male virility. Thirty-seven year old Tagg, the ex-governor’s senior advisor, was a Reebok VP. Matt, 35, is VP in charge of realty management for $10 billion per year Excel Realty Holdings, and previously a product manager for Microsoft. At age 26, Craig is a “producer” in charge of advertising for the powerful advertising firm McGarry-Bowen. Thirty-two year old Josh has his own company, Romney Ventures, a multi-multi-million dollar real estate developer. And Ben, 29, is in Harvard Medical School.
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